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Author Topic: Anderson Power Poles, more than just for DC power?  (Read 7745 times)
AA4HA
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Posts: 1581




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« on: April 28, 2012, 11:55:59 AM »

We have our ubiquitous Anderson power poles for emcomm connectivity and finally we are seeing equipment coming with the power pole DC connections as standard. I had faced a bit of a challenge in finding the Power Pole standards for 24 VDC equipment. It involves using black/blue spacer/yellow to keep from plugging 12 and 24 VDC gear together. For mil type battery packs 24 VDC is not uncommon. I may actually make the blue connector "live" as a center tap on a 24 VDC battery so in a pinch I can charge half of my 24 VDC battery at a time.

Since the power pole is such a neat way of doing things I wonder how much thought has been given to expanding the power-pole scheme to include 2x2 and 2x4 schemes where you could also bring audio and mic connections through a connector. To keep from misconnecting the other four leads (audio in/out) those plugs can be rotated 90 degrees in the plug so if you are mating up with someone who just uses a 12 VDC cable there is no possibility of a misconnect. Late at night, poor lighting, being in a hurry and tired, you would hate to plug 12 VDC at 30 or 45 amps across your speaker or microphone connections. That way we still maintain backwards compatibility to the existing (and perfectly wonderful) 12 VDC plugging standard.

We do not always use DC ground as mic or speaker ground. I know it gets more complex it you are also trying to mate up PTT that may not be grounded at all (maybe it is +5VDC switched to something else).

I bought several 2x3 shells and plan on using those as my standard. I can still jack in to the normal 12 VDC connections but I could also support external speaker/ mic (with VOX) connections.

Feedback, suggestions, ideas? I do not want to make this into a flame thread (I am not trolling for trouble) so I will only slightly singe the sacred cow of Anderson Power Pole connections with the intention of increasing capabilities.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 04:05:11 PM »

Wouldn't powerpoles be overkill for signal connections? Power poles are made to carry some amps of power after all. Also, I'd think using DIN plugs or coaxial plugs/jack plugs would provide more RF shielding than power poles would.

When it comes to microphones, do all radios have the same microphone impedance? What about microphone buttons?
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KC0UKR
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Posts: 38




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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 06:08:45 PM »

I have been using this method for a while with my Solar Panel setups with just the same 2 conductors to keep from interchanging a panel output and 12vdc devices.

I will usually turn the connectors to an over/under config. instead of side by side and it works well.
Then I have several long and short extensions configured like this for the panel to charge control connections and then I use the standard config. cables from the control to the Batteries.
This way anyone helping me realizes (usually) that certain cables may look alike at first but are indeed for different uses.

Another dimension of this is that I also use a Digital MultiMeter to aim my Solar Panels so I have a short 2fer with both standard config. and Solar config. on the 2 side and the panel on the other.

This allows me to stick the 2fer inline passing the panel output to the charge control but still use the standard config. end for the meter so I can aim the panel.

I have also made a variety of other configs for varipus other power needs but have never really considered them for Audio or Control use but can't see why they would not work as suggested other than shielding as was mentioned above.

I will also add that the more conductors you use the better the grip they have is and the less likely they will need to be wired together against accidental disconnection.

Ed
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AK4DV
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 09:13:57 PM »

I have used them on my portable dipoles. If I want to make a shorter or longer dipole, I can change the lengths out quicker on the balun. Unplug one and connect the new one and I'm on the air after raising it.
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N3QE
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 04:36:34 AM »

I agree 100% that Anderson Power Poles are wonderful connectors. Your 24V application is a great success story.

And by stacking them into various configurations we can obviously do more than just 2 conductors. I see them used outside ham radio, for everything under the sun in industrial control wiring, for speaker wires by Public Address outfits (don't know if this is an "official" speaker wire connector in that business), and in ham radio I've also seen them used as antenna connectors.

But for very-low-current signal cables... this is not really what they were intended for. The skinniest Power Pole crimp terminal is #16 AWG which is going to be way too thick for most multiconductor microphone cables. Typical microphone cables are using much skinnier #22 or #24 or #26 wires in ultra-flexible cordsets. There are also different contact materials/arrangements used for low current applications than for high current applications (look at the different silver/gold/other materials used in switches etc.) that the power pole contacts may not be appropriate for long-term.

I do know that at least Motorola and some ham rigs use RJ-45 or RJ-11 connectors for microphones and remote-front-panel connections. I think this is a good idea, as these cables are well adapted to low current use, and phone cords are nice and flexible, but I have no idea if they have some standard wiring that makes this stuff portable across brands.

I do agree that there ought to be some standard "ARRL microphone connector", but just like the powerpole standard, this is something we needed half a century ago too! (Actually the ARRL did approve a standard molex-type connector config for 12VDC power a few decades ago but powerpole is so superior to the molex stuff in this application.)

Tim.

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WB6BYU
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 10:31:38 AM »

I think the point is that, when one needs to simplify connectors to radios, one can combine
multiple circuits into a single plug.  This allows, for example, a single plug to swap out all
the connections (mic, speaker, power, etc.) in a radio or other equipment.  We've used these
at work in other applications as well, where we needed to build our own multi-connector plugs.
I also have seen them used as trailer connectors with 4 or 6 circuits for tail / brake / backup
lights, etc.

Remember that the plastic housings are available in multiple colors - I use green / blue / yellow / white
in my portable dipoles, and it makes it much easier to write instructions for inexperienced users.
("For 160m, connect white to yellow and connect blue to green.")  You can use yellow / black
or red/blue as alternate DC connectors when you want to be able to tell which plug connects to
some remote device.
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AA4HA
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Posts: 1581




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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 11:07:37 AM »

I think the point is that, when one needs to simplify connectors to radios, one can combine
multiple circuits into a single plug.  This allows, for example, a single plug to swap out all
the connections (mic, speaker, power, etc.) in a radio or other equipment.  We've used these
at work in other applications as well, where we needed to build our own multi-connector plugs.
I also have seen them used as trailer connectors with 4 or 6 circuits for tail / brake / backup
lights, etc.

Remember that the plastic housings are available in multiple colors - I use green / blue / yellow / white
in my portable dipoles, and it makes it much easier to write instructions for inexperienced users.
("For 160m, connect white to yellow and connect blue to green.")  You can use yellow / black
or red/blue as alternate DC connectors when you want to be able to tell which plug connects to
some remote device.

Yes. that is exactly where I was going when I started the thread. It would not dilute the "standard (per sec) of red-black powerplugs, everything would still be backwards compatible but for those devices that support multiple connections we could "enhance" it. For example. The connections between a radio and a TNC or even a radio to radio if you wanted to make a back-back impromptu repeater (using a double ended adapter module that flips the TX/RX audio around and maybe even runs the sound through a pair of miniature audio transformers so you do not have ground loops). You would need to adjust the audio output and mic gains on both devices but in an expedient situation you could do that in the field by popping this impromptu repeater onto a different frequency pair and by ear, setting the audio up. Then when it is "good to go" you punch in the correct TX/RX frequencies, attach them to two different antennas separated by distance (no diplexer/combiner messing around with) and be on the air in minutes. You could even simulcast between two different systems (DSTAR and conventional, cross-band, etc...)
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2344




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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2012, 03:39:27 PM »

Yes. that is exactly where I was going when I started the thread. It would not dilute the "standard (per sec) of red-black powerplugs, everything would still be backwards compatible but for those devices that support multiple connections we could "enhance" it. For example. The connections between a radio and a TNC or even a radio to radio if you wanted to make a back-back impromptu repeater (using a double ended adapter module that flips the TX/RX audio around and maybe even runs the sound through a pair of miniature audio transformers so you do not have ground loops). You would need to adjust the audio output and mic gains on both devices but in an expedient situation you could do that in the field by popping this impromptu repeater onto a different frequency pair and by ear, setting the audio up. Then when it is "good to go" you punch in the correct TX/RX frequencies, attach them to two different antennas separated by distance (no diplexer/combiner messing around with) and be on the air in minutes. You could even simulcast between two different systems (DSTAR and conventional, cross-band, etc...)

Look in a 50's or 60's or 70's ARRL handbook where they had radio-to-power-supply or radio-to-radio connections. Especially when they started talking about repeaters. Octal plugs, and best of all, Jones plugs!!!

The neat thing about Jones plugs, is they can be used to just mate two chassis together, no need for an intervening cable. No, they aren't as good as powerpoles for the 30A and 60A power circuits. But they do let you mate up a very wide variety of wire AWG sizes, much better than powerpoles.

Now, imagine if they made powerpole housings for not just single thick copper wires, but also had a housing that could carry a small coaxial cable with center pin and shield, and you could intermix with the power housings. That would be sweet. Anderson doesn't sell anything quite like that but if you look at say http://www.andersonpower.com/products/pin-socket-powerpole.html you will see a glimmer of the direction they could go. Of course D-subs and circular housings have been able with coaxial contacts for decades, but they aren't really configurable the way powerpole housings slide and lock together.

Tim.
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AA4HA
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Posts: 1581




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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 04:05:23 PM »

Now, imagine if they made powerpole housings for not just single thick copper wires, but also had a housing that could carry a small coaxial cable with center pin and shield, and you could intermix with the power housings. That would be sweet. Anderson doesn't sell anything quite like that but if you look at say http://www.andersonpower.com/products/pin-socket-powerpole.html you will see a glimmer of the direction they could go. Of course D-subs and circular housings have been able with coaxial contacts for decades, but they aren't really configurable the way powerpole housings slide and lock together.
Tim.

Tim, exactly! A make before break grounding connection. I had seen that too but it is a gender issue there as it is a pin-socket arrangement. i had considered a "Pogo Type" contact with teeth and not flats or pins that could be inset into an Anderson connector shell.

There are a few genderless coax connectors but 99.9% of the amateur radio operators have never seen an APC-7 much less be willing to spend $250 each on the connector. They are used on very high end pieces of test equipment. I will not jump onto my "Type-N bandwagon right now (completely different issue) as the community has spoken and it is the PL-259 UHF connector. Now we just need to find out whomever came up with the mini-UHF connector common on Motorola gear and put them in a gulag <joke>.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
K1CJS
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Posts: 6055




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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 05:30:21 AM »

Your idea is certainly worthwhile, but there may be a problem in that the connectors--except for the color of them--are identical.  If someone who really doesn't know your setup were to accidently connect somethings that weren't made to be connected because of impatience or dim lighting--or just about any other reason, you may be facing a somewhat large repair bill. 

A repair I once made on a Yaesu rig comes to mind.  Someone who really didn't know what they were doing connected a key to an external power port just because the connectors matched.  (I believe it was an RCA type connector.)  Someone else tried to used the key--and blew out the transceiver.  For that reason, if you're going to use similar connectors, I would recommend double checking everything---twice!--before even connecting the power leads for the equipment.  If the connectors are similar, it's too easy sometimes to make a mistake.  73!
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13457




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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2012, 08:57:14 AM »

I had a similar problem with my Ten-Tec Argonaut - the antenna, DC power, and key connectors
on the rear panel were all RCA jacks, and it was easy to get a plug in the wrong one in the dark,
or bending over the rig from funny angle.  Only once have I plugged the DC input into the antenna
jack, and fortunately I was on the 10A Ten-Tec supply which shut down before melting the input
coil.

But with the Power Poles you can assemble them together in blocks with some pins rotated so
that they won't match with other combinations.  For example, a RED/BLACK pair for 28VDC
could be stacked vertically rather than side-by-side, so it couldn't mate with the standard 12V
connector (unless the pins were taken apart) but still maintained the same genderless advantage.
By mixing multiple circuits in, for example, a 2x3 arrangement, you could provide power, speaker
and perhaps (at least at HF) antenna in a single plug that would make it easy to swap out
rigs.

I suspect there are too many options to come up with any sort of recognized standard beyond
a small group with a particular application, but it is worth considering when you do need something
like that.
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